The concept of environmental sustainability has turned out to be an imperative subject in the recent time as individuals now understand the impact that their actions can have on the environment. In essence, environmental sustainability has been a crucial issue for the human societies during the 21st-century world (Vlek and Linda 1). The world is now experiencing numerous environmental challenges including water shortages, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, and climate change due to human activities. Individuals continue carrying out research about the impact of human activities on the environment. Consequently, environmental sustainability has received a lot of attention from numerous government departments and media. Various countries throughout the world have seen the importance of securing the adequate quality of ecosystems, natural resources, and the diversity of animal and plant species. Ideally, environmental sustainability entails making the right decisions, which will lessen the negative impact of human activities on the environment. Environment sustainability is primarily concerned with discovering processes, which will result in businesses turning out to be entirely sustainable in the future. For this reason, the present paper delves into the subject of environmental sustainability.
The word environment is applied in various fields such as physical environment, social environment, natural environment, and knowledge environment. Environment means the conditions or surroundings in which an individual, animal, or plant operates or lives. Sutton (1) defines environment as the physical surroundings to something, for instance, the atmosphere, waters, land, buildings, roads, physical resources, among other physical elements. Sustainability is essentially the capability to continue a defined behavior for an indefinite period. According to Morelli (5), Environmental sustainability could be defined as, "a condition of balance, resilience, and interconnectedness that allows human society to satisfy its needs while neither exceeding the capacity of its supporting ecosystems to continue to regenerate the services necessary to meet those needs nor by our actions diminishing biological diversity.” Environmental sustainability is thus, the ability of the environment to function in a normal and natural cycle. A sustainable environment helps human beings live in well-balanced ecosystems
Human beings have been interacting and influencing the physical environment from the past. The environment is experiencing countless issues as a result of human activities. In fact, the human activities have and continue polluting the environment. There are some common environmental concerns due to human activities on the environment. For instance, the human use of unsuitable farming practices has damaged the agricultural land. In addition, human beings have greatly polluted the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels. Woodlands and rainforests have also been destroyed by agricultural clearing and logging. What’s more, human activities have polluted the lakes, oceans, and rivers. The natural resources remain polluted even after pollution has stopped. For instance, Adams (12) states, “The polluted lakes do not necessarily return to their former state when pollution stops." If human beings engage in the activities that harm the environment, they will continue putting the planet in real danger. As human beings, we have the duty of conserving the environmental, natural resources through desisting from the activities that spoil the environment. It has been difficult to achieve environmental sustainability due to individuals’ culture and inability to stop engaging in the activities that harm the environment.
Numerous people have for much of the past acted with little concern for the harmful impact they have on the environment. The utilization of the natural resources, for instance, forests have continued increasing since the industrial revolution. Wildlife animals depend on the natural resources such as forests for their habitat. The manufacturing plants have been engaging in the activities that are not suitable for the environment. There are barriers that have hindered the achievement of environmental sustainability in businesses. Firstly, businesses lack the mechanisms to value the advantages that come with managing environmental sustainability. These businesses do not value improved environmental sustainability in their capital allocation decisions. Secondly, businesses do not integrate the environmental factors, for instance, water scarcity and climate change into their long-term business strategies.
Human activities have impacted the natural environment negatively. “Environmental impacts can be felt at global, continental, (bio) regional, national, and local levels” (Ekins 86). Consequently, this requires individuals and businesses to improve their environmental sustainability. It demands both businesses and individuals to look beyond generating temporary gains and look at the long-lasting impact that they have on the environment. For this reason, it is important for every individual and company to look for the continuing implications of their actions on the environment. It is worth noting that a healthy environment is crucial for realizing sustainability. As a result, environmental sustainability demands careful management of the natural resources. Human beings ought to make decisions that favor the protection of the natural environments to achieve an improvement in environmental sustainability. It is crucial for the businesses to focus on natural resource management to facilitate their improvement of environmental sustainability (Baland, Pranab, and Bowles 54). In essence, they should limit and monitor their use of resources such as fossil fuels, water, minerals, and many others to lessen their negative impact on the environment.
Businesses should also concentrate on pollution prevention and control so as to improve their environmental sustainability. Ideally, they should reduce and manage the amount of pollution that they generate in their daily activities through finding other sustainable ways to produce goods and services. The other strategy that businesses should consider in efforts to improve their environmental sustainability is focusing on lifecycle management. For this reason, they should consider the whole lifecycle of their product development to help make environmentally sound decisions.
Moreover, businesses should take the necessary steps to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas while at the same time enhancing economic performance and energy efficiency. They should increase their efforts in reducing their negative impact on the environment. Businesses should pursue a number of practices. One of these practices is creating and pledging to greenhouse gas reduction and goals. They should also develop action plans aimed at realizing greenhouse reduction targets and goals, and develop greenhouse emission inventories. As regards to the environmental effects caused by production processes, businesses ought to use innovative practices that will prevent toxic substances from being improperly discarded or landfilled. It is also the responsibility of businesses to use renewable energy resources instead of the non-renewable sources. Organizations should also develop operational and cost-effective environmental policies to improve their environmental sustainability. The environmental policies developed should help in maintaining ecosystems integrity through the effective management of natural resources.
Sutton, Philip. "A perspective on environmental sustainability." Paper on the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (2004).
Morelli, John. "Environmental sustainability: A definition for environmental professionals." Journal of Environmental Sustainability 1.1 (2013): 2.
Vlek, Charles, and Linda Steg. "Human Behavior and Environmental Sustainability: Problems, Driving Forces, and Research Topics." Journal of social issues 63.1 (2007): 1-19.
Adams, William M. "The future of sustainability: Re-thinking environment and development in the twenty-first century." Report of the IUCN renowned thinkers meeting. Vol. 29. 2006.
Ekins, Paul. Economic growth and environmental sustainability: the prospects for green growth. Routledge, 2002.
Baland, Jean-Marie, Pranab K. Bardhan, and Samuel Bowles, eds. Inequality, cooperation, and environmental sustainability. Princeton University Press, 2007.